Malawi Police Service (MPS) has maintained that University of Malawi (Unima) engineering student, the late Robert Chasowa, committed suicide in 2011 contradicting findings of a presidential commission of inquiry which found that he was murdered.
The inquiry, commissioned by then president Joyce Banda, also named those implicated.
The position of the police is contained in a letter to Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, which The Nation has seen, indicating the conclusions of the law enforcers.
The conclusions followed repeated requests to MPS to undertake further investigations into Chasowa’s murder after no action was taken following the 2012 inquiry report submitted to the President.
In a response to a questionnaire, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu yesterday confirmed that in the “letter” not “report” as earlier indicated, the police maintained their earlier position that the death of Chasowa was a suicide.
He said what the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs had received was a letter in response to communication from the ministry on three separate occasions, dated May 23, June 9 and November 17, 2016.
Tembenu added that his ministry had requested the police to undertake further investigations to fill evidential gaps which made it impossible to proceed with the trials.
“In other words, there was insufficient evidence to secure any conviction. Now, in the letter from the police which you have referred to as the ‘report’, the police have simply re-stated their earlier position that ‘their investigations concluded that the cause of the death of Robert Chasowa was suicide,’” Tembenu said.
In the letter, the police adds that they arrived at this position because an independent handwriting expert from South Africa concluded that the suicide note and poem compared with Chasowa’s registration forms and marked examination scripts were by the same writer.
“Secondly, our investigators established that there was some likelihood that late Robert Chasowa, would have thrown himself from the two storey building near which his body was found. This assertion is based on the evidence that prior to his death, he had confessed to his ‘girl friend’ Ndagha Mkandawire that he ever attempted to throw her down the same building,” the letter reads.
“It may not be necessary to go into all details of the facts on which our investigators rely in concluding that the late Chasowa committed suicide. However, what is evident is that the position of our investigators on the matter is clear. They are convinced that the late Chasowa’s death was a suicide.
However, the police have welcomed calls for further investigations to be conducted on the case and requested the ministry to source an international investigation agency to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Chasowa.
To this request, Tembenu said the government has proceeded to engage with its co-operating development partners for assistance as sought by the Malawi Police Service.
Commenting on the contradictions of the police conclusion when arrests were made in connection with the Chasowa death, Tembenu said it was possible to make an arrest before concluding investigations if there was reasonable beliefs that crime had been committed.
In an interview yesterday, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said he could not confirm the contents of the letter to the Ministry of Justice, but believed what the minister told The Nation to be correct.
The body of Chasowa, 25, was found in a pool of blood at the Polytechnic campus six years ago and police quickly concluded that he had jumped from the two storey building and produced suicide notes as evidence.
But a post-mortem conducted by Professor Charles Dzamalala found that Chasowa had been struck on the back of the head with a blunt object
In the commission of inquiry headed by Justice of Appeal Andrew Nyirenda, the commission found that the suicide notes were faked and that Chasowa was murdered.
The commission which interviewed 94 witnesses also faulted police for not taking measures to preserve the scene where Chasowa was discovered or inviting a medical examiner to examine the body before it was removed from the scene.
The police also did not summon the guards who were on duty on the night Chasowa died and these guards could no longer be traced by the police or the commission when investigations were conducted.
Chasowa was found dead on September 24 2011.
Other schools of thought alleged that Chasowa was killed for having dissenting political views against the then Democratic Progressive Party(DPP)-led administration of former president Bingu wa Mutharika. n